Following the incredible 2010 vintage in Piedmont, 2011 always had a very tough act to follow; however, it has followed it in style. It is instructive that in 2011 Barbarescos in particular surpassed the 2010s and the 2011 vintage in Piedmont is also very exciting for Barolo. The Barolos are superb, possessing voluptuous rich fruit texture, delightful aromas and aromatic complexity, ripe tannin and fresh acidity. The growing season was warm, which created Nebbiolo with wonderfully refined tannin and powerful perfume. The famous Roberto Voerzio commented when comparing the 2010s and 2011s that “The 2011s are more full-bodied, more long and more intense.’ The 2011s are now being paralleled with the superb 2007s, with comparable rich, velvety and voluptuous fruit.
Pio Cesare is recognised as a truly great producer and their Barolo and single vineyard Barolo offer some of the best value wine the world-over. In 2011 James Suckling has scored the single vineyard ‘Ornato’ 97 points, surpassing their superb 96 scoring 2010, which trades today for £350 per case of six – this is completely sold out at the Estate. Moreover, the standard Barolo has been awarded 95 points, besting the 2010 which scored 94. We advise collectors to secure cases on pre-release, as prices rise quickly within the first year; we perennially sell out in a matter of few days.
Pio Cesare is named eponymously after the man who founded the Estate in 1881 and they have been producing classic Piedmontese wines for five generations, over which time they secured some wonderful single vineyards and relationships with growers. Their main source of grapes used in their Barolo comes from the magnificent 40 acre vineyard in Serralunga d’Alba called Ornato. This is found in the eastern most area of Barolo and is the exclusive source of their vineyard designated Barolo ‘Ornato’. The soil here is chalky and iron-rich, while the vines’ average age is 35 years and taken together explains the wine’s relatively deep colour and long ageing potential.
The Cesare cellar is based in Alba and its walls date back to 50BC, the time of the Roman Empire. Today the Estate is run by Pio’s Great-Grandson Pio Boffa who has recently made significant investment, rebuilding and restructuring the cellars and wine facilities. A new fermentation cellar has been built with a new gravity racking area and a new barrel ageing room has been built 12 meters under the ancient Roman walls. Pio Cesare reflects a wonderful balance of traditional and modern winemaking.
In Barolo there are two waves of winemakers, the traditionalists and the modernists. The traditionalists use large Slovenian oak casks and produce wines with big tannins and beguiling aromas, requiring longer ageing, with noticeable spice aromas such as cinnamon. The modern winemakers use rotary fermenters and shorter maceration times; they also use much smaller new French oak barrique (225 litres). As a result the wines tend to have oak, vanilla and toast flavours, are more fruit forward and can be consumed younger. There are also a set of winemakers that straddle the two schools and Pio Cesare does this beautifully; fermenting in stainless steel tanks with skin contact for ten days. After drawing off, 80% of the wine rests for 20 months in medium toasted (70%) new French oak while 20% ages in hectolitre casks.
In their youth Pio Cesare’s Barolos display concentrated and focused fruit: blackcurrants, redcurrants, almonds, prunes, pepper, tar and ginger with lovely high notes of violets, rose and liquorice. With age it will develop leather, forest floor, porcini mushroom, coffee and truffle.
Once released to market Pio Cesare’s case price climbs as the wine improves and supply diminishes; based on the last ten vintages one can expect a price rise of around 30-50% after four years in bottle. At £26.60 per bottle Pio Cesare’s 2011 Barolo offers incredible value and one will be hard pushed to find a single vineyard Barolo, such as the Ornato, scoring as high as 97 points for less than £41.60 per bottle.
Pio Cesare Barolo ‘Ornato’ 2011, £250 – 6×75 IB or £326.76 incl duty and VAT
James Suckling, 97 points – tasted on April 13th, 2015
A complex and complete wine with black cherry, mushrooms, wet earth and plum. Full-bodied, yet so refined and caressing in texture. Wonderful length and beauty. You want to drink it now but it will give so much more in the future.
Pio Cesare Barolo 2011, £160 – 6×75 IB or £206.76 incl duty and VAT / £330 – 6×150 IB or £425.52 incl duty and VAT
James Suckling, 95 points – tasted on April 13th, 2015
This is a fabulous young Barolo with a purity and beauty that is breathtaking. Full body plus a deep and subtle center palate of strawberry, light cherry and hints of citrus. Really superb. Drink or hold.
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